THE STOLL SMOCK – Chapter One
Written by Jamie Lundy
It was a September evening in 2018 when the first time I met Mike Stoll. We had organised a small 7L event at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester introducing the media and other important invitees to the brand. Mike Stoll had kindly accepted the invite and came along with a work colleague. Towards the end of the night we found the opportunity to talk and introduce ourselves to one another. We spoke for 5 – 10 mins and then grabbing his beautifully made coat, we shook hands and he departed. He left quite an impression on me.
As some of you reading this will know, prior to starting 7L, I used to be an engineer working for a family run business in Stockport. I worked from cleaning the factory toilets, factory floors, offices (aged 15-16) to welding, engineering design and then finally project and construction management in the Railway. Mike Stoll reminded me of one of my father’s old business partners, Tony Bennett. A bit older, wiser and a man that I could be inspired and learn from. Tony was a huge influence in my life and my career and Mike would become that in my new career in 7L.
I remember the first day we first went to the Cooper and Stollbrand factory in Manchester. Tucked away behind an industrial estate, close to the O2 Arena and Strangeways Prison. Having not spent the past 15 years in or around Manchester City Centre, I was amazed at how the city was changing. Huge office blocks and buildings shooting up everywhere.
As I drove through Chetham Hill the silloute of Strangeways loomed, apart from wondering where I was actually going, I couldn’t help but think about all the prison riots covered by the media back in the 90’s, an era of Brit pop, Kate Moss, Liam Gallagher, Oasis, Blur, The Hacienda, Lol Hammond, Pete Tong, Raves, Drugs and of course Stone Island, one of the best era’s in my life.
Approaching the entrance of the old factory, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit like home. I looked above the door and read the sign “Cooper and Stollbrand”. Inside, the ambience, the smells, the old concrete stair treads that were clearly worn down from years and years of feet going up and down them.
Cooper and Stollbrand is one of the longest serving, most sophisticated and last remaining manufacturers of premium outerwear in the UK. The factory was originally founded by Jack White, a WW1 war hero.
Private Jack White V.C. returned to Manchester as a hero having been awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in World War I.
After his military service, Jack began an apprenticeship as a pattern cutter in his local raincoat factory. He quickly rose up the ranks and in 1934 was appointed general manager. In 1937, after less than twenty years of service he became the sole owner of the factory.
Following WWII and with failing health, Jack was forced to retire and in 1949, aged 52, he passed away. In 2007, Private Jack White’s great grandchildren united to bring the company back into family ownership. More than 70 years after his untimely death, the family remain unwavering in its commitment to preserving both Jack’s legacy and the city’s unrivalled industrial heritage.
To this day, the company continues to extol the values and principles entrenched by Private Jack White V.C. that are all characterised by an obsession with quality, craft and regionally sourced materials.
PRIVATE WHITE – The brand & factory
(Extract from PW Website)
Every garment is handcrafted in the last remaining clothing factory in the world’s first industrial city.
Manchester or ‘Cottonopolis’ – as it was dubbed back in the 19th century – has been our home since we opened our doors in 1853. Over the years we have made for kings, and queens, for presidents, and prime ministers, for rock stars, musicians, sporting greats and Hollywood icons. In 1916, we supplied the Allied Forces with cotton gabardine trench coats, and in the 1940s we were commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to supply the RAF with waterproof parkas. In 2020, to help combat the global pandemic of Covid-19, we volunteered our services at the height of lockdown to the Department of Health & Social Care and quickly became the largest manufacturer of medical-grade gowns and surgical masks in the country.
As one of the most venerable makers in the country we have been outfitters to the most established tailoring houses on Savile Row whilst our flagship store in the heart of Mayfair continues to serve our loyal customers who visit from all four corners of the globe.
To this day, everything is still produced from inside the same 150 year old red-bricked building on the banks of the River Irwell. Nothing is outsourced, everything is handmade, checked and controlled by us here in Manchester, the world’s first industrial city.
Read ‘Chapter Two’ next month on how Mike Stoll helped introduce Chris Vandrill to the brand…….